Sri Lanka opposition lauds move to amend casino approvals

Oct 23, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National party hailed a move by the administration to delay final approval for tax breaks, for casino resorts which had come under fire. “We are happy to note the hard fought victory for the people of Sri Lanka in round one of the ongoing battle to stop tax breaks for James Packer’s unregulated and illegal Crown casino,” opposition legislator Harsha de Silva said in a statement.

“The UNP will not agree to a twenty-two year income tax holiday by applying a ridiculously low 5 percent tax on gaming revenue having removed the existing 12 percent VAT (value added tax) and NBT (national building tax) on casinos…”

De Silva said Sri Lanka was taxing basic foods at high levels while giving tax breaks to casinos.

Sri Lanka has also lifted value added tax from many industries with lobbying power leading to weak state revenues and a value added tax system hamstrung by multiple exemptions.

Sri Lanka has seen a rise in autarky in recent years, and tax arbitrage has become rife in protected ‘domestic production’ sectors especially those related to hunger and shelter of the people.

Sri Lanka’s investment promotions minister La